Tuesday, October 21, 2014



How I "remember" last week's photo shoot. At least I think it was last week. Then again, I may have hallucinated the whole thing while cleaning my hydraulic shocks with an experimental chemical mix.

It's the photojournalist life for me (sung to the tune of Barnacle Bill the Sailor). Sure, some aspects of this "alternate lifestyle" can be considered stressful, but the Pros outweigh the Cons by a measured mile, from my pretzeled perspective. Last Wednesday's photo shoot for Street Rodder magazine was a typical example: Twenty four hours of warm fuzzies that left my jaw and eyeballs aching (from laughter and sleep deprivation, respectively), and my spirit content as a snoozing infant.

SGE regular Jim Lindsay had alerted me to the breaking news from his Willamette Valley, Oregon stomping grounds a few weeks back: A local (Albany, Oregon) 26 year old lowrider truck guy that Jim and his contemporary Sid Campbell had been mentoring had just finished his first (mostly) traditional rod build. The result was of a very high quality, while remaining legitimately grassroots. Jim sent me a photo, which I pitched to a couple of magazines. Brian Brennan at Street Rodder bit (perhaps due to some baiting from my mentor Tim Bernsau), and the feature was a go. Knowing my photographic skills to be less-than-extraordinary, Bernsau suggested we bring in Chris Shelton for the heavy lifting. This was a double win for me, as I had been itching to meet Shelton for some time, and my byline had never appeared in Street Rodder.

Shelton - who lives on some godforsaken lump of dirt out in the Pacific Ocean called Camano Island (off the northern Washington coast) had another shoot lined up in Eugene, Oregon, so he was happy to double his money on the long haul south with our shoot in Albany. Shelton joined us immediately following the Eugene shoot and we proceeded to crash every alleyway, shop bay, and parkway in Albany, shooting up the place like a couple of drunken cowboys. "The kid", his family, friends and mentors, all followed the action intently, as we slogged through rain and mud for four hours. We finally celebrated with a late dinner at a rowdy side-street bar (thanks Mark!) where we ran into yet more hot rod loonies. Then Shelton and I holed up in a nondescript Albany motel until the wee hours, trading notes on the characters who populate this wacky business, and the hilarity that ensues. The cars never fail to inspire us, but it's the people that ultimately get us where we're going. People like the McClintons, Lindsay, and Campbell. Salt of the earth.

A break in the rain on I-5 North. I only saw one wreck, but it was an absolute classic. My hands were too busy to grab the camera, so you'll just have to take my word on that. 

Introducing the 1998 Honda Civic LX. A true world class luxury automobile, favored by in-the-know media insiders. This one (mine) was free, and well worth it. I observed 50 MPG through numerous mountain passes. Constant hydroplaning via bald tires (an old mileage trick) likely bolstered those numbers somewhat. True confession: I really miss my old Chevy station wagon.

The editor's choice for Northwest photography, Chris Shelton. The guy is basically a walking camera, permanently set at 3.5 frames per second. The results are astounding (though we can't show them here). The stories and shenanigans, manic. For the record, Shelton also arrived on the scene in a Japanese daily driver. 

Owner/builder/operator of our feature car, Aaron McClinton, enjoying the show from the sidelines in the McClinton Collision shop, where the local Honda dealer supplies the bread and butter, and lucky area hot rodders provide the gravy. 

Aaron's girlfriend and shotgun rider, Sarah, was supportive throughout the build process and the ensuing photo shoot.

Aaron was mentored by his dad, Mark. Then Jim Lindsay (left) and Sid Campbell came along. The three wise men kept Aaron on the straight and narrow, while passing on what had been freely given to them. So it goes.

Lindsay had just undergone endoscopic surgery and was still too anesthetized to drive, but Campbell made the scene in his trusty '36 Ford, unchanged since being scratch-built 30 years ago.

And those are the only Albany photos suitable for general audiences. A grand time was had by all. I'm honored to count Shelton, Campbell, and the McClintons as new friends. Running into old pals (notorious A/FX racers, the Brenneman Bros.) in the aforementioned rowdy bar was a sweet bonus. 
The following morning, Shelton went north and I went south, stopping only at the Canyonville rest area (above), I-5's finest roadside break facility. Big as a state park and just as pretty, it's clean, has ample parking for autos, semis and RVs (complete with hookups and camping spaces), and features enormous sparkling state-of-the-art restrooms. Weary travelers leave so refreshed, most cruise straight into Canyonville and drop money. Someday (if we're lucky) all rest areas will be like this motorist oasis. What a wonderful world that will be. In the meantime, be on the lookout for a shiny black coupe in Street Rodder this winter. (Scotty shots)



Je ne comprends pas. You pickin' up what I'm layin' down?

The last we heard from hot rod artists Lance and Dianne Sorchik, they were hunting (and finding) crusty tin in the rain forests of Hawaii. The gearhead archaeologists checked-in this week from an expedition of Italy, Croatia, and France, where they sniffed out this meanass Chevy-powered Renault, thanks to loyal native tour guide and door man, Christian (in red shirt). The following are random samples of the Sorchik's European findings. Where in the world will they pop up next? Place your bets now.

Typical gathering of the like-minded, but language-challenged, narrated by Lance (far left): "Eddie the Rod Builder (blurred guy) and his dad just wanted to sit and chat, out by the corn field. So welcoming to a few strangers. Fresh veggies, a few beers and some snacks. We sat there for about two hours, until it was pitch black outside. At one point, I thought to myself, 'Where the hell are we? In a corn row, with these rodders who don't speak a word of English.'  But they were so hospitable!"


When last we saw the SGE Model A '40 Chevy truck shocks, they were cleaned up for rebuilding with gasoline and a wire brush as per tradition. They look good, but for one stuck piston. An entire can of penetrant and a frantic hour of tapping, banging, cussing and sweetly whispered encouragement produced zero results. Upon arrival at Dr. Lockjaw's Custom Metal shop last Sunday, one mighty blast of compressed air bested my previous efforts, in festive style: Springs, clips, valves, and 74 years worth of accumulated skung flew across the shop before we knew what hit us. Sorry for the mess, Doc. The shocks still stink to high heaven. At Doc's suggestion, I'm now seeking out a rare Lance Sorchik air freshener. And some proper seals...  

Guilty pleasure: The decadent side of fabrication. There's nothing like taking a bandsaw to an expensive chunk of expertly welded aluminum. The little black Sharpie line is where the filler neck will soon be on my radiator (in the center, where it belongs). A few unnecessary geegaws and whoopties also met the blade - it was an alloy massacre. Weeeee!!! 

Wanted: Weber 40mm DCOE sidedraft carb to match this gennie Italian version. Once I have a second Weber 40, I can begin fabbing the intake manifold for this car - a project that will likely take a while, so the sooner I buy your carb, the better. Message me on Facebook, or leave a message in the Comments box, below. Thanks! PS: I don't have any money, but am a nice guy.

While in Albany, Aaron McClinton solved the SGE-A registration riddle with this Year Of Manufacture license plate! Stay tuned for a full feature on my DMV odyssey in a future post. Thanks Aaron! (Scotty shots)



Gearheads aren't the only species into photography. We're not the only species referred to as squirrels, either. But train a squirrel to shoot like Chris Shelton and you have something. (PSA: Squirrels constitute a heavy percentage of our nation's homeless population. Consequently, they're cold and hungry this time of year. Do yourself a favor and secure your garage area today. If you don't have a garage, say goodbye to your car's upholstery, wiring, rubber seals, windshield wipers, tires, paint, and those survival snacks you put in the glovebox in 1973. This very topic was detailed on Motor Mouth Radio (www.motormouthradio.com) last Sunday. It's that important!

The Mac Tech 1000 was the logical choice for McClinton Collision when they opened their doors 18 years ago. Since then, they've added the Snap-On drawers on the left, but that's it. For 18 years, they've proven that the tools seen here are all you need to build anything. (Scotty shot)


A couple of graduates from the esteemed Scotty Gosson School of Motorsports Photography. You too can be in the thick of the action, for only $20 per 1/2 hour lesson. www.click.com. Hurry!


PS: Please buy this stuff, so I can pay Mr. Landlord. Otherwise, I'll be breaking into abandoned cars for shelter, like a common squirrel. Thanks.